Struggling for Education: Students from Drought-Hit Marathwada Face Hardships in Pune

Drought hit students in Pune
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Pune, 21st December 2023: The pursuit of education becomes a challenging journey for students hailing from drought-hit regions like Marathwada in Maharashtra, who are now studying in Pune. Their stories reveal a stark reality of financial hardships, meager living conditions, and the relentless determination to overcome adversities.

Jyotsna Solunke, a 16-year-old in her first year in Pune for 11th grade, epitomizes resilience in the face of adversity. Unable to afford college hostel fees, she shares a house with 18 other girls as a paying guest. With six girls in her room, Jyotsna wakes up early to walk 3 kilometers to college, often on an empty stomach. She and her friend share a single meal a day from a shared box.

Jyotsna’s family, back in Beed district, faces the harsh reality of drought, leaving their farm barren. Despite financial struggles, Jyotsna remains steadfast in her pursuit of education, fueled by her father’s dream for her to become an IAS officer.

Shrishti, Jyotsna’s roommate, also navigates financial constraints with frugality. Coming from a village in Beed, Shrishti’s parents insist on her education, countering societal expectations for early marriage.

The plight extends beyond rural backgrounds. Narayan Raut, residing in a Pune slum, shares a room with others, paying Rs 2,500 per month. Facing financial strain due to drought, Narayan juggles expenses and speaks of the burden of his family’s increasing loan interest.

Aniket Bhusnar and his roommates exemplify the struggle of “earning and learning.” With meager earnings of Rs 300 for 4-5 hours of food delivery work, they share a room and prioritize expenses for education and basic needs.

The Student Helping Hands organization sheds light on the pressing need for assistance among students from Marathwada in Pune. Over 300 students urgently require help, with the fear that bureaucratic processes might delay aid through scholarships. Kuldeep Ambekar, director of Student Helping Hands, emphasizes the unique challenges faced this year due to the prevailing drought conditions.

Efforts are underway to connect these students with philanthropists and appeal to the administration for support. Requests include waiving hostel and educational fees, recognizing the immediate need for intervention.

Agriculture Minister Dhananjay Munde acknowledges the absence of a direct agriculture department scheme for these students. However, he highlights the collaborative efforts of CSR and social organizations to provide food and part-time jobs, expressing hope for a permanent plan to address the ongoing crisis.

As students grapple with financial constraints, lack of part-time job opportunities, and the imminent threat of their dreams being cut short, the call for support echoes through the halls of academia. These resilient young minds, despite their challenges, hold onto the hope that education will be their pathway to a brighter future.

student helping hands